One of the rheumatic diseases most frequent is the osteoarthritis. Specialists estimate that its prevalence is around 29.35% in people over 40 years oldwhich translates to more than 7 million people in Spain suffer from this pathology. Although these data could be even higher because, according to experts, it is a disease that is underdiagnosed.


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Osteoarthritis primarily attacks the joints

  • Cervical spine

  • Lumbar

  • Hips,

  • Shoulders

  • Fingers

  • knees

Specific to cartilagewhich causes pain, stiffness in affected joints and inability to move.

Osteoarthritis treatment

Currently, the treatments are practically limited to the relief of symptoms through drugs, and the modification of habits and lifestyle.

And as the Dr. Isabel Moralesfrom the Rheumatology Service of the Hospital Universitari d’Igualada (Barcelona).

  • “Different studies have shown that classic risk factors for osteoarthritis such as age, obesity, diet or exercise alter the microbiota, causing dysbiosis, elevation of lipopolysaccharides, release of cytokines and persistent low-grade inflammation that favors the development of this disease”,

But not only that. The specialist remembers that “the microbiota can also influence drug metabolism that is administered to patients, modifying its bioavailability and, therefore, its effectiveness.”

Modification of the intestinal microbiota could be useful for patients with osteoarthritis.

Osteoarthritis and microbiota

Different studies carried out so far have revealed the important relationship between osteoarthritis and the microbiota intestinal.

Thus, in people with this rheumatic pathology, a differential microbiota pattern has been observed compared to healthy people (an increase in some bacteria and a decrease in others).

“It has even been identified at the joint level presence of different bacterial DNA in healthy subjects regarding patients with osteoarthritis,” adds Dr. Morales.

This indicates that “the Modification of the intestinal microbiota could be useful to treat patients with osteoarthritis since some studies have shown that they can improve symptoms and even reduce structural damage and disease progression.”

How to modify the microbiota to relieve osteoarthritis?

Studies on the importance of the intestinal microbiota are not new and there are already many tools to modify it.

Change can be achieved by practicing regular exercise or following a adequate diet even with a fecal transplant or taking:

  • Prebiotics (foods that contain substrate for microbiota)
  • Probiotics (they contain the bacteria alive)
  • Symbiotic (contain both prebiotics and probiotics)
  • Postbiotics (they contain metabolites generated by the microbiota that are beneficial).

In the case of osteoarthritis, all those actions that contribute to avoiding dysbiosis are potentially useful to prevent this disease, given that dysbiosis is a risk factor for osteoarthritis.

Following a balanced diet improves the intestinal microbiota.

Dr. Morales points out that “at the last congress of the American College of Rheumatology (ACR) a very interesting work in this line was presented.

It was studied if the fecal transplant from mice not susceptible to osteoarthritis to others susceptible reduces the risk of suffering from the disease and the results were positive. These results are promising, although more studies are necessary and confirmed in humans.”

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  • And the scientific evidence on the role of the microbiota in the development and progression of osteoarthritis is increasing.

For this reason, the doctor insists on the need to prevent this rheumatic disease: “andpreventing intestinal dysbiosis following a healthy diet (especially the Mediterranean diet), exercising regularly and avoiding obesity. In addition, the administration of prebiotics and probiotics can improve the symptoms of patients with osteoarthritis.”